Wolf Betrayed(3)By: Carrie Ann Ryan
“I’m fine.” A breathy answer. She cleared her throat. “I’m fine,” she repeated, her voice far stronger. She was good at pretending she held a strength within herself she would never actually possess. Her sister, the only mother she’d ever known since Ellie had raised her from a small child, had taught her how to pretend, how to face her fears even if she may never fully overcome them.
Bram frowned, and she wanted to rub away the little line that formed between his dark brows. She loved that line, just like she loved every inch of his face, though she’d never told him that. She never would.
His skin was smooth, dark brown, and encased muscles that held the strength of a Pack leader. The squareness of his jaw, and the broadness of his shoulders had only intensified as he’d grown into himself and his position in the Pack, and she’d fallen for him early on in their friendship. Their one night of passion, however, would have to be the last time, as the bond hadn’t come when it should have.
Bram was not hers, and he never would be.
But she couldn’t fight for her Pack in this time of war if she spent her days mooning over a wolf she could never have.
Resolute, she rolled her shoulders and took a step back from him. The hurt that crossed his features mirrored her own, but both she and Bram were good at pretending.
Oh so good.
“Do you want to head back?” Bram asked as he fisted his hands by his sides. She did her best not to look down past his waist since neither of them had put clothes on yet. Nudity shouldn’t matter to wolves, and yet it did right then. She’d once felt his body up close, caressed every hard inch of him, but now she had to push that from her mind.
“We need to,” she answered as she bent to pick up her clothing. She hadn’t missed Bram’s gaze wander over her body, and she couldn’t allow it any longer. They needed to move on, and they couldn’t do that if they were constantly panting with need. “I promised Mom that I’d be back for dinner. Lana and Belle miss me.”
Charlotte had chosen to call Ellie her mother when she’d come to the Redwood Pack. Though technically, Ellie was Charlotte’s half-sister, it had been easier to call Ellie “Mom” and refer to Maddox as her father. They had been the ones to raise her and teach her what it meant to be a shifter in the world of secrecy and hope. Belle and Lana were technically Charlotte’s nieces, but they were the sisters of her heart. As long as she didn’t think too hard about the bonds and connections that wove through their heritage, she was fine. The fact that one of her best friends, Parker, was also her nephew—and cousin—because of the ways everyone had mated only made her head hurt. So she chose to ignore all of that and focus on what mattered.
Bram grinned then, and she held back a moan at how gorgeous the man looked when he smiled. It simply wasn’t fair that he was so good-looking. “Let’s get dressed, then. Your sisters shouldn’t be kept waiting.”
Charlotte rolled her eyes and quickly pulled on her jeans. “You spoil them.”
“Well, duh. You tend to spoil them, too. They’re almost adults now so we need to make sure they’re pampered before we push them out into the ranking of the Pack.”
“Like Dad would ever let them be pushed out like baby birds in the nest.”
“True,” Bram said as they started back to the center of the den where most of the homes were located. The wards the witches of the Pack had put up might protect the den from the humans’ prying eyes and even more dangerous intentions, but the natural landscape of the area also provided some protection. “Maddox might not be the Omega now that Drake is coming into his powers, but the guy is more intuitive than any other wolf I know.”
Bram reached out as if to take her hand as he had countless times before but seemed to think better of it and quickly dropped his arm. She refused to be hurt because of the action. It was just the way things were now.
She gave him a falsely bright smile. “Yeah, you try growing up with a Dad who can literally feel every emotion you’re feeling. There’s no hiding from him.”
Bram gave her a look. “Considering I was at your house more than I was at any of my foster homes, I know exactly what you mean. Getting you out of there after hours so we could sneak around like any self-respecting teenagers wasn’t the easiest thing.”
Charlotte laughed, the tension of the run and what would never be slipping from her shoulders. “I still think we got off easier than Finn and the rest of Uncle Kade’s kids. I mean, Kade’s the freaking Alpha and always knew what I was up to. Just imagine his own kids.”